Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful Day 6 & Day 7

Thankful # 6: Photography & my camera
Thankful #7: Shuttersisters.com & Project 365

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.
-Dorothea Lang

I am so so very Thankful for photography, and even more specifically the Shutter Sisters. When I picked it back up again earlier in the year, I was at a very low point in my life. Having such a hard time dealing with my back pain, feeling physically incapable of being productive, and no hobby to speak of. When I stumbled across the Shutter Sisters blog and discovered the Project 365, I was so inspired. Inspired by all the beautiful photography of the women who write the blog and the photography of people from all places taking and sharing their photography daily. Inspired that a group of women (and a few men) come together every day to share inspiration. And the project gave me purpose. It makes me feel I am doing something, and I have that feeling of accomplishment back.

I love what a photo holds. A single photo can freeze a moment in time, capture an emotion, capture a feeling, capture beauty of the natural world around us.One aspect of photography I have always found to be so intriguing is you can give multiple people a camera, and tell them to shoot the same thing, and you will get different photos with varying perspectives and point of view.

I have noticed how much taking daily photos has changed the way I see the world around me. I notice details I never saw, paths I never noticed, and unexpected beauty everywhere around me. Taking pictures everyday I see changes...changes in seasons, in nature, in weather, in people, and places. I love focusing on the little details and finding beauty in places you would often overlook.

I am still learning and growing every day. But mom was right...practice does make perfect. (Well maybe not perfect...but it sure makes a difference!)

Many have shown up on my blog, but here are a few of my favorites so far...I am on day 128.
You can see the rest of my 365 Project here.

Virtual Coffee

If we were really meeting for coffee this morning I would tell you to head on over here. Its quiet and we can watch the beautiful light dancing through the dew-covered grass outside and talk without distractions. You can pick out your favorite mug, this one I gave to Aunt Lori as a gift when I was going to school at SFSU. Just looking at the cityscape makes me miss it. I am drinking huckleberry cream tea my mom brought back from the last trip to Idaho. It is delicious!! What do you want? Coffee, tea, hot cocoa or an espresso drink? Let's grab a few blankets and chat.
I really cannot believe it is already the week of thanksgiving. I usually feel a little rushed through Thanksgiving with Christmas decorations already in the mall and around town. I LOVE Christmas decorations and how festive they make everything, but the earliness usually annoys me to no end because I want to savor each holiday...rather than be rushed toward the next. But this year I am really trying to embrace it. I am reading Tim Gunn's book "Gunn's Golden Rules" and it is the perfect place to apply his "make it work" philosophy. So I am 'making it work' and instead allowing myself to look at it as a preparation for holiday season...sort of combining thanksgiving and Christmas together as one. What are your thoughts?
Maneuvering through the holidays gets a little tricky in terms of who to see when. Remember Reese Witherspoon's movie "Four Christmases?" Well it's three Christmases in my world. Mom, Dad, and Brent's family. So here is the plan. Two Thanksgivings this year. Tonight with Brent's family, Thursday with my mom's family, then Christmas with my dad. I am baking a mixed berry pie for tonight and pecan for Thursday. I also get to cross off a few more things on my Fall To Do list this week... *Bake a pie and *Learn how to make mom's famous stuffing. I only have 3 things left on my list. Can't wait to post the list when I am done and revel in my accomplishment! What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you have any fun traditions? Specific food you are excited about?

It has really been cooling down here. The mornings and nights are very cold and during the day chilly. I'm not really ready for winter...I want fall to stay longer.
Happy Tuesday, have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving with your families! Thanks for the coffee date. I will send you off with a little gift...a recipe perfect for an easy-peasy-cheesy appetizer perfect for the holidays. (Yes I give you permission to laugh at me for what I just said). Everyone will love it I promise!

Brent and I don't care for the taste of wine in our cheese fondue, so we found one without it. The modified version is delicious, more of a melted cheese sauce/dip.
Basic Cheese Fondue
(serves 2-4 for appetizer)
2 Tablespoons margarine or butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Dippers...our favorite are cut up granny smith
apples and a sliced warm french baguette**

Place butter in fondue pot. (You could also do in a small crock-pot or even a nonstick saucepan kept at low heat) Turn temperature dial to 200 degrees and allow butter to melt. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup grated cheese (any kind works well, I like a combination of mostly cheddar with a little pepper jack). Reduce heat to warm and stir until cheese is melted. Enjoy!!
**This recipe is very versatile...use any dippers from breads to veggies and fruits, any type of cheese, and you can even add beer or hot sauce or other seasonings if you wish!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Thankfuls #4 & #5

Did you ever play Head's Up Seven Up in elementary school?? Those rare southern California rainy days were exciting to me even as a kid, and I loved the change of staying inside during recess to play the game. I had a boyfriend in 2nd grade - Nick. During that year when we played this game, we would always choose each other so we always won. Little cheaters, yes, but we thought we were sneaky.
When living in San Francisco, I loved to walk in the rain. Most would grumble about the thought of taking public transportation and walking from class to class in the rain, yet I was in heaven. What's not to love?....

The smell
The feel
The cold, crisp air
Bundling up in coats and boots and scarves
Pleasing my inner-child and splashing through puddles
Coming back to the warmth of home
Changing into dry clothes, with a blanket and something warm to drink
For as long as I can remember I have always stated 'if I had it my way, it would rain every day and I would be happy'. And people have always responded by telling me I would get sick of it. Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn't. But perhaps it is good I live in a place where rain is an infrequent occurrence, because it makes me love and appreciate it that much more when it does drop in for a visit.
Thankful #4 - Today I am thankful for the rain. I can't help but smile when I wake up to the sound of rain. Whether you share my feeling or call me crazy, I am so very thankful for this simple pleasure nature gifts to me.

Thankful #5 - Today I am thankful that I live in southern California. I miss city life and there are many, many other places I am so curious about and am dying to see. But for now at least, I am thankful to be close to most of my family, close to the ocean, sandwiched between San Diego and Los Angeles. And I sure cannot complain about the weather, I feel pretty lucky to call this home. It makes me happy knowing that most people feel this way about the place they call home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Five Wishes, Thankful #3

For this week's Friday Five, I wrote a poem about five wishes. Enjoy! ♥

{Dandelion Wishes}

A dandelion is a weed

with a special power.

Wispy white and delicate

A little wishing flower.

Think of all you hope and wish

And close your eyes real tight.

Blow every last spore away

And wish with all your might.

I wish I were a kid again,

no worries and carefree.

Before all the big obstacles

Popped up in front of me.

I wish my body had no pain

Hips, back or even knees.

No aches, no pills, a good sleep

Can this come true please?

I wish I wasn’t bound by time

Seconds and hours moot,

Would let me do all I want

Before the day is through.

I wish I could travel the world

No place left unseen.

Not held back by time or money

Becoming a travel fiend.

I wish I knew which direction

for where to steer my life.

It’s hard not knowing where to go,

Photographer, nurse...housewife?

With all of my wishes wished

I watch them float away.

Just one more wish I have to make

That these come true some day.

And for "What I am Thankful For" Day 3, I am thankful for Fridays. Even though I am not working or in school, there is still something about that feeling of reaching the end of the week, knowing I have those two days to rest and relax and not worry about checking items off my to-do lists, and spending time with Brent.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful #2 - Flowers

Every color, different shapes and sizes, sometimes fragrant, always beautiful. I am thankful for flowers. Boasting its beauty from a grocery store, from buckets at a farmer's market, from a vase in the house, or growing wild, all forms are like eye candy. I never get sick of photographing flowers, and they always bring me joy. Even in death, they are beautiful.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful #1 - Jazz

Thanksgiving is only one week away! The theme for November Greeblepix photo contest is Thankfulness. Over the next week I want to share some of the things I am thankful for, starting with my photo entry.
This is Jazz. He is 17 years old, and last week stayed in the animal hospital for 5 nights to address a kidney problem. Visiting him at night, both arms were shaved, with two IVs and bandages wrapped around them. But he was so happy to see us, so loving and so much to tell us. Jazz came home but was getting progressive worse and we had to put him down today to stop his suffering. He will be greatly missed but never ever forgotten.

I am thankful for our pets. For their unending love. For the attention they give you and the attention they seek. For looking into their eyes and seeing that they are dependent on us. For knowing that no matter what mistakes you make in your life, no matter what ups and downs you are experiencing, they are there to cuddle up next to you and offer unconditional love. All of our pets-past and current-bring me such joy and I am so very thankful for them. Even though we outlive our pets, they make just as much of an impact as any person, and are just as much a part of the family. I am thankful for the ability to hold onto all the memories of my previous pets, and Jazz will be no exception.

Finalists are announced on Thursday, you can see other entries and vote HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Five Senses

Today's Friday Five is all about the senses. Smell, taste, touch, sound & sight...

{Favorite Senses}
Favorite smells: Vanilla, coffee beans, kettle corn, freshly baked cookies,
fresh cut grass, rain, candle burning in a pumpkin, sweet peas
Favorite tastes: Lattes, fresh chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered
strawberries, caramel, red wine, cinnamon
Favorite feelings: A hug, the velvety nose of a horse, a cat snuggled against me,
warm laundry, a kiss, the comfort of a soft warm bed in a cold room
Favorite sounds: Live guitar, rain falling on the roof, music, purring cat
Favorite sights: A sunset, baby animals, two people holding hands - young and old,
dew drops glistening in the sun, newly fallen snow

{As I write this I am...}
Hearing: The hum of the heater
Tasting: Mango tea, and cottage cheese with berries
Seeing: Sitting at the dining room table and looking out the window at the small palm trees
Feeling: Freezing cold! I am bundled up but it is cold this morning! Also feeling the smoothness of the computer keys against my fingers
Smelling: My mango tea

What are your senses picking up on today and what are your favorites?
Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


November's Ten on Ten!
A photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of every month.
Admiring the beauty in the everyday...
See more 10 on 10 projects here

I checked two items off my fall checklist today...making (and eating) caramel apples, and drinking a pumpkin spiced latte (took me too long!). Hoping Jazz can come home from the animal hospital tomorrow!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Coffee Date

It's Tuesday! Instead of coffee, or even tea, I am having hot cocoa today. I have been all about it lately! The mornings and nights have been chilly, and there is something about this drink - with marshmallows of course - that is so comforting this time of year.

If we were really meeting for coffee this morning, I would comment on the weather. It has been all over the place! Just last week we got up to the 80s and 90s, yesterday it raining, last night was windy and freezing, today is back to normal fall weather, chilly but sunny and gorgeous. Perfect for hot cocoa.

My weekend was nothing to note, so I would say, let's talk about spiders. You would respond with: "You?....Want to talk about...spiders??" Yes me...the one who is terrified of spiders and runs away when I see one in the house. But I have been so fascinated with photographing them lately! Their beautiful webs gleaming in the sun, their creepy long legs...yes I am getting chills talking about it, but just look!

Can you see the baby at the top?

I prefer when the webs are uninhabited, but if they are, I muster up a LOT of courage, get close, then make sure they are not on me, and run away. (Funny image huh?) My mom and I are both terrified of spiders yet we were both born during fall when they are everywhere.

Taking photos of spiderwebs is actually on my "Things to do During Fall" List. I think I can cross it off! Drink hot chocolate is also on there. If we were meeting for coffee this morning I would ask you what would be on your list if you made one? Mine includes carving a pumpkin, roasting pumpkin seeds, a lot of baking and cooking, ordering a Pumpkin Spice latte...and a bunch more. I will probably post the full list after I have crossed a few more off. It is a lot of fun!

I would also tell you that even though Christmas seems a while away, it is really not! I am getting super excited for Thanksgiving, but I am also starting to brainstorm about gifts. Do you have your holiday plans set yet? I have no idea what I am doing, but still excited! Do you need a tree topper for your Christmas tree? My mom got the banner put up in her Etsy shop and it looks so cute, check out here cool star tree toppers here.

Have a great Tuesday and a wonderful week!
Visit Amy for more Virtual Coffee:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Picture Fall

{Photos from top left moving clockwise: Fall Bounty, I Love Fall, Repetition, Stem, Muse: Weather, Sweet Relief, Subtleties, The Great Pumpkin, Golden, Sunshine, Fall Colors, Fall Baking, Treasures}

I always thought California was completely robbed of the quintessential beauty of fall. But during the month of October I took an online photo class called "Picture Fall" with Tracey Clark and it changed my mind. For the first time I can ever remember, I was really able to see and appreciate the beauty of the mild and subtle changes. Leaves turned from green to shades of gold and red and orange. I watched as they fell to the ground, strewn about in gutters and sidewalks, and I could imagine the crunch they make if I walked or driven on. I watched walls of dark green ivy slowly turn to a beautiful red and eventually brown. The trees became bare, their branches naked and exposed to the new chill in the air. Rain fell and new bright green grass and clover appeared on the ground. The hair on my arms stood on end as I began to spot the season's 8-legged creatures, yet I found myself getting closer to them than ever before to capture the beauty of their webs with my camera. Fall has always been my favorite season. Yet I feel the combination of my camera, creativity, and newfound passion for capturing beauty through my lens has allowed me to appreciate the season in a completely eye-opening way. Some of these photos are repeats I posted along the way, but I wanted to post my favorites now that the class is over.

For this week's Friday Five I want to include 5 of my interpretations of favorite ideas and thoughts from Tracey Clark's (the teacher of the class) daily emails. Tracey's point of view was very inspiring, encouraging me to relate some of the elements of the season to my own life.

1 ::Comfort::
Did you know that the word harvest comes from old English hærfest which meant Autumn? Throughout history, fall represents the time in which to celebrate and reap the benefits of the hard work through the year. This is the perfect opportunity to take the time to celebrate our own personal harvests by seeking out comfort. Find that spot in your home, that food, that person, that activity, or whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable and happy. Reflect on all your hard work-at your job, school, at home, for your family, etc. and bask in the thought that all your hard work is for a purpose. Allow yourself to celebrate and maybe even indulge. After all, 'tis the season of Halloween candy and Thanksgiving feasts!

2 ::Beauty in Starkness::
Fall arrives and nature begins its process of retreat. Colors change then fade and eventually diminish, leaves and petals fall, things begin to die, and stems and branches are left bare. It's easy to find beauty in seasons filled with blooms and vibrant colors, but fall offers less obvious forms of beauty. Looking closely, noticing and discovering something that most people would overlook was an unexpected way of appreciating what Fall has to offer.

3 ::Preparation::
The trees shed their leaves and the flowers lose their lives in preparation of gaining a new luster and beauty in Spring. So why not mimic nature's process and shed those lackluster, jaded, and tired extensions of ourselves in preparation of the new growth that lay ahead in the seasons to come. The beginning of the year is typically used as a jumping off point for starting fresh, but why not now? Just as the trees and flowers will welcome new growth, starting now will allow you to welcome change once the time comes. But remember, nature moves at its own pace, and you too need not feel rushed.

4 ::Bounty::
The summer fruits have disappeared, but Fall brings its own bounty...pumpkins, squash, pomegranates, and more. Each season can be appreciated for the gifts they give. For me, among other things, summer is warm weather, stone fruits, vacations, and carefree attitudes. Spring is blooming flowers, color, and regrowth. Winter is cold weather, warm clothes, holidays, and family time. Appreciating each season for its gifts and uniqueness can inspire us to do the same in our lives...give thanks for the little gifts that make us happy and all the little things that make us special and unique.

6 ::Fun & Fantasy::
It seems as we get older we sometimes forget to have fun, becoming wrapped up in the seriousness of life. Kids are usually so carefree, happy-go-lucky, imaginative and Halloween is such a good way to bring that back to life. While we may be too old to go knocking on doors for candy, kids and adults of all ages still don costumes, pretending to be a completely different person, make-believe character, animal or inanimate object. The holiday is a great reminder to just remember what it feels like to be a kid, and know that it is good for us to have fun and be more carefree. After all...laughter IS the best medicine, right?

Happy Friday to everyone! I hope that during this fall season you are able to enjoy the beauty, savor the moment, take some time out for yourself, prepare for positive changes, give thanks, and of course, have fun!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Double Time

{Me, Mother & Brother}
Last night was the second year in a row we have gone to Carlsbad's Vigaluccis for a joint birthday celebration for my mom and I. Our birthdays are only 4 days apart, and I feel so fortunate to be so close to my mom, and to have the opportunity to spend our birthdays together!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Coffee, It's Coffee Time!!

It's Tuesday, so that means, it's time for our weekly coffee date. I'm Joining Amy over at Lucky Number 13 for coffee as well. For some reason when I was thinking the topics I would like to chat about today, I starting singing "It's coffee, it's coffee time!" to the sound of the Flight of the Conchord's Business Time song. You can hear it here, I think it is so hilarious!
So..."It's coffee, it's coffee time!!" Or in my case, it's TEA time, but singing that sounds ultra lame. I am drinking apricot tea and enjoying toast with cranberry-apple butter. Both were gifts from my dear friend Georgia as a part of the "Autumn Blog Swap" package I received from her the week before. It was so much fun to take part in, if you want to read about what I sent to my partner, go here. From Georgia I received Apricot and Passion Fruit tea, a mini pumpkin, baking cups & sprinkles, a milky way, a pumpkin-spice candle and the delicious cranberry-apple butter. I have only tried it on wheat toast, but I am anxious to try it in other ways...mixed into oatmeal, on vanilla ice cream, spread on a cookie...any other ideas?
So how are you this week? How was your weekend? The weather has been really nice the last few days...very warm, in the 80's, but the mornings are still crisp and cool. Kind of a fall-summer hybrid. Let's sit outside. It's already 72 in the backyard, and while we wrap our fingers around our warm drinks we could watch the cute little birds flitting about in the grass and eating the figs, and Smokey, the next door neighbor cat is up on the rafters above us. She may look sweet but be careful, she is kind of an evil cat.
If we were having coffee this morning I would tell you about my weekend. My crazy busy, fun, special weekend. Friday was my birthday. A beautiful day, I woke up to this moon outside my window.
The day was filled with lunch at the pier with Emily, Andrea, and aunt Lori (not pictured)...
...I painted a cupcake-shaped dessert plate at Fired Up, the local paint-your-own ceramics studio, came home to a box of 12 assorted chocolate-covered strawberries sent by my wonderful boyfriend...
...and dinner with Brent and friends at the Cellar, a wine bar in downtown San Clemente. Fabulous food, wine, and company.
Saturday we had plans to go the USC homecoming game. Brent goes every year, but I have never been to the USC campus or the stadium.
It was such a cool experience, going to SFSU I never got the chance to go to big sports events like that. I felt like I actually belonged. I was wearing a cute USC t-shirt and red hoodie, and no one could tell I am a newbie to the team. The school spirit is incredible, even the little kids were rockin' it! USC lost unfortunately, but it was a fun day, just long, long, long! I loved that the USC colors are sort of fall-ish :) (I would)
Sunday, Halloween, we drove down to my dad's house. He barbecued ribs and chicken and baked a cake for my birthday. It was fun to spend time with him and the food of course was great! The cake on the left is one aunt Lori baked for me...a Jack O'Lantern cake, and on the right is my dad's traditional chocolate with buttercream frosting. Notice how they did the 23 differently?
I just completed a photo scavenger hunt for the month of October. I posted the photos I submitted here, and it was tough and a lot more work than I expected! But a fun challenge. Some of the photos I have posted before, but not all. One of the hardest was the self-portrait, I do NOT like photos of just me. I almost chose a different one, but last minute changed my mind. For the Fall tradition photo, I almost went with a pumpkin carving one, but switched it to my birthday. The tilt-shift photography is a way of putting only a portion of the photo in focus and blurring out the rest, to make it look like a miniature model.

If we were sitting outside, commenting on the weather, I would remember to tell you...you know the benefit I attended last weekend for PCRF (Pediatric Research Foundation)? We found out that the total amount raised for research was $198,00o. Isn't that amazing!! It was so great to be a part of, and Brent and I both plan to get more involved with the organization.

I cannot believe how fast October went, and to tell you the truth, it is a little bittersweet. October is my favorite month...the beginning of fall, my birthday, pumpkin-related festivities, Halloween and all things related...but November is great too. Today is a big day. November 2. My wonderful & amazing mom's birthday, Dia de los Muertos (I don't celebrate, just note it), and election day!

Thanks again for joining me today, happy November 2nd to you!
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